Seven Hills West Vineyard, The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater, Walla Walla Valley, Oregon
Empty bottle weight: 22.2 ounces // 630 grams
75 cases produced
Aptly named, The Rocks District in Milton-Freewater is a tiny, nested AVA within the larger Walla Walla Valley appellation. Approved in 2015 by the TTB, short for Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau, it’s currently the only AVA in the United States with a single soil type– Freewater Series– and a single landform– alluvial fan. Less than 6 square miles in size, there are only 472 acres planted in grapes, mostly Syrah, Cabernet sauvignon and Grenache.
As you can see in my photo below, irregular river rock-type stone litters the soil in what Northwest wine folks call “The Rocks.” Not only do these rocks absorb and then radiate their solar heat, which helps the grapes mature and ripen… they are also known as ankle-breakers! The vineyard workers and grape pickers need to work more slowly and carefully, watching every step as they traverse the rows of grapevines. And just imagine how hard it is to dig the holes when planting the grapevines in the first place!
These Cab grapes were handpicked from the Seven Hills West Vineyard near the end of October and then cold-soaked in the winery for 4 days. Fermentation occurred over a 2-week period, after which all the juice was barreled for 22 months, two-thirds in new French oak with the skins (also called sur lie). Allowing some of the wine to age with the skins is a great tool in the winemaker’s toolkit. Not only does it allow for additional color and flavor extraction, but also creates a more integrated tannin structure, making this wine a great one to enjoy now or age in your cellar for another decade.
Violets // cherry cola // maple syrup // cherry pie // rosemary // black cherries
Michele Francisco, a founder and regular contributor to Winerabble, a blog primarily about Pacific Northwest wines, is living the dream in Portland, Oregon. Her passion leads some to believe she's got wine running through her veins. Contact Michele at firstname.lastname@example.org & be sure to visit her online portfolio at www.michelefrancisco.com.